Podcast post-production 101

A while back I wrote a post Podcasting 101 – Simple Steps To Launching a Podcast. I wrote that post strictly out of need. I needed a post like that when I started podcasting. I bought several “How To Podcast” books, and I don’t know if I was just missing something or there was just assumed knowledge by the authors, but I felt there were several basic steps to setting up a podcast that no one ever explained very clearly. From my stats, I know that I get a regular flow of readers checking out that post, and several blogs and websites have linked to the post.

Since launching my podcast, I’ve recorded and released 36 episodes of the Reading and Writing Podcast – a podcast where I interview writers and authors about their books and their writing habits. I’ve interviewed primarily commercial fiction writers – thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, etc. I also recorded and released four episodes of the Book Marketing podcast – a podcast that I’m in the process of reviving as both a video and audio podcast.

I’ve had several people ask me about the specific steps that I follow in recording and producing a podcast. Here they are.

Recording – I use my MacBook Pro to record my podcasts. I conduct the interviews via Skype using eCamm Call Recorder software to record the interviews. My preference is that the author use Skype as well, and we do a Skype-to-Skype call – the audio clarity on Skype-to-Skype calls is much, much better. However, most authors don’t use Skype, so I end up using Skype’s call-out feature to call the author’s phone. I use an Alesis USB microphone for recording, but I’d love to get a higher quality microphone – maybe a Heil PR-40.

Alesis USB microphone

Post-production – When I finish the interview on Skype, I have a .mov file. I use a piece of software that comes with eCamm Call Recorder to split the conversation/interview into two files. I end up with two .mov files. Next, I use video conversion software to convert those two .move files into .wav files – files that Garageband will recognize and use. After I’ve converted the files into. wav format, I then run both files through The Levelator – free software that automatically cuts out the high and low volumes. I’m not an audiophile, and I may not be explaining The Levelator correctly. What it does simply is eliminate the volume increasing and decreasing dramatically on my audio interviews. I’ve listened to many podcasts who needed to use The Levelator badly. I constantly have to adjust the volume on my stereo because one person’s voice is very loud and the other person’s voice is lower. The Levelator eliminates all that.

Garageband – Again, I’m using a Mac, so I use Garageband for editing. I usually open the previous episode’s Garageband file, rename the file for the new episode, and then drag the two .wav files into Garageband. I reuse the previous episode’s file, because I reuse the segues and various sound files from episode to episode. My other Garageband editing consists of – cutting off the beginning and end of the audio files of the interviews where I’m talking to the author and explaining how the podcast works, etc. I also record a new intro each episode, and I do that recording from directly within Garageband using the USB mic.

MP3 – When my editing is complete, I export the file from Garageband as an MP3. Then, I use MP3 ID3X to edit the MP3 file’s metadata  – I add a JPEG image of my podcast’s logo, I write Title, Artist, Album, and all the metadata that will eventually show up in whatever device or software someone is using to listen to the podcast.

Uploading – When I finish editing the MP3’s metadata, I upload the file to Libysn – the service that I use for hosting my podcast’s MP3 audio files. Once, I’ve successfully

It’s alive – Once I’ve successfully uploaded the MP3 file to Libsyn, I open WordPress for my podcast’s website – www.readingandwritingpodcast.com – and I write a new post describing the podcast’s content, links to the writer’s website, and, of course, links to the MP3 interview files hosted by Libsyn.

Feedburner – The final step. I ping feedburner. At one time, I also followed the feedburner ping with pinging the iTunes store (basically sending the iTunes store a signal that a new episode of my podcast was available for people who had subscribed to the podcast via iTunes.) However, in the past several months Apple has eliminated the pinging ability for iTunes. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the new episode is showing up in iTunes. (iTunes crawl’s my podcast’s feed and whenever it sees a new podcast, iTunes lists the episode in their directory and to anyone who had previously subscribed to the podcast.

With that, I’m done and the podcast is available for listeners.

What’s your podcasting post-production process?

 

  • Hi Jeff — this is great! Some of our listeners have asked us to tell them how we podcast, and we will be recording an episode about that soon (hmm, maybe we should do video…).

    Because Michael, my cohost, and I are not located in the same place, our procedure is a bit different. We are also PC-based.

    Michael and I each have Zoom H2 mics that record onto SD cards. (They can also be used as USB mics). They are portable for field recording, run on either batteries or AC power. When we record, Michael and I talk on the phone and each record our own side of the conversation with our individual mics. Then the one who is not editing sends their .wav file to the one who is editing.

    If I’m editing, I take the two tracks and import them into Audacity, which is free audio editing software available from sourceforge.net. It’s very similar to garage band. I sync the files so that our conversations line up properly. In order to make this happen, we begin our recording with a count, getting our counting in sync from 1-6 then *yelling* 7-8-9. This yelling causes visible spikes in the audio recording wave, which I then match up to sync the two files.

    Once I edit the voice tracks, I export the file from Audacity as a .wav and run it through Levelator — it’s important to Levelate before adding any music. Then I open our master music file, which contains the intro, outro and segment breaks. I import the now-Levelated and combined voice file, edit the music tracks into the appropriate place, and re-export to .wav.

    I then import the wav file into my iTunes library, where I convert the file to .mp3, add the cover art and tag the contents. Then I upload that file to Libsyn. We also use WordPress for our shownotes, and we use the Blubrry Press plugin to create the podcast player — that plugin also allows some fine-tuning of the episode information that gets submitted to iTunes, like keywords, episode description, etc. We also use Feedburner, but I don’t bother pinging unless the episode doesn’t show up in iTunes for 1/2 hour or longer.

  • Thanks Ann for adding your process here. Much appreciated, especially since y’all use PCs. I don’t know any of the PC tools for podcasting. Also, I should note, that I’m always impressed with the audio quality of Books on the Nightstand. You’d never know that you and Michael aren’t sitting right next to each other recording each episode.

    Per your comment about Blubrry Press, I should note, I use the WordPress Audio Player plug-in for an embedded audio player on my site – so you can listen to the podcasts directly from my site. The link for that plug-in is http://wpaudioplayer.com/

    Like you, I could probably do without pinging Feedburner. I guess I’m a little anal in that regard and I like to do whatever I can to speed up the latest episode showing up in iTunes.

  • Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for writing up your production notes.

    I just bought a Zoom H2 to podcast, because I was getting a lot of clipping from my computer’s speakers/built-in mic. Like you, I usually interview my guests via skype, preferring skype to skype and calling their landlines when I have to.

    But now I’m not sure how to record using skype for my interviewee and the Zoom H2 as a USB microphone without a fancy fixer. I use Mp3 Skype Recorder to record my skype conversations and edit in Audacity. Do you have any specific tips on how to do it?

    And it seems like I can only use the Zoom as a USB microphone, and when it’s in this mode, it does not record. Am I correct?

    And lastly I’d like to figure out Feedburner eventually but haven’t figured out how it works.

    Thanks!
    Bettina

  • Hi Bettina,

    Unfortunately, I can’t answer your question 100%. Here’s a link to a video/blog post from Cliff Ravenscraft (the Podcast Answer Man) about creating what he calls a mix minus set up. But, yes, it requires an external mixer. http://podcastanswerman.com/039-podcast-answer-man-mixer-and-mixminus-mix-minus/

    Personally, I’ve never used an external mixer. Knock on wood, with the exception of some Skype issues where the audio for the person I’m interviewing fades for a few seconds, my process has worked fine for me.

    I’ve certainly thought about using the set up that Cliff describes, but I haven’t made that leap yet. Good luck. Add a link to your podcast in the comments section, I’d like to listen to your podcast. 

    Jeff